Semperoper Dresden

Paintings by Cornelius Völker

Artistic concept for the presentation of the premieres for 2020/21

Following on from the photographs of Andreas Mühe, which accompanied the premieres of the 2018/19 season, and the »Overpainted Photographs« by Gerhard Richter in the 2019/20 season, the Semperoper has for the upcoming season 2020/21 found an artist regarded around the world as one of the great representatives of contemporary German painting, namely Cornelius Völker. »We are delighted to be able to show a total of eleven powerful works by this internationally acclaimed artist for the new productions of the Semperoper Dresden in the 2020/21 season. These artworks will visually represent our premieres, primarily in the form of large-format posters but also in adverts and various other printed matter. The image for the ballet premiere ›Playlist‹ was created exclusively for the Semperoper, thereby lending a unique quality to this season’s series of motifs,« explains Susanne Springer, Head of Communication and Marketing at the Semperoper. »Cornelius Völker is a master of colour and brushstroke. His works are superb examples of the artistic transformation of everyday objects and people by painterly means.«

The artist’s oeuvre, representing a kind of heightened impasto photorealism, is characterised by intensely coloured, figurative depictions of everyday situations in partly abstract, partly realistic interpretations. In these thrilling compositions, Cornelius Völker successfully elevates the seemingly insignificant to the status of a great art through the dynamic application of paint and a great eye for detail. By means of aesthetic concentration, mundane images leave the realm of the trivial, gaining an autonomous pictorial value that leaves the viewer with an historical understanding of the object or a fresh perspective on it. »I was very pleased when the Semperoper suggested this collaboration, which will enable visitors to explore my pictures in an entirely new context. For me this joint work has proved highly satisfying: operas and paintings have been thematically coordinated with great care, expertise and sensitivity,« says Cornelius Völker.

When Peter Theiler assumed the post of Managing Director at the beginning of the 2018/19 season, all of the Semperoper’s print and online communication media were given a fresh corporate design. The capstone of this visual reorientation was the relaunch of the website and the monthly programmes in the 2019/20 season. At the heart of the new award-winning design guidelines is the idea of collaborating with contemporary artists to realise a unique visual theme for the presentation of each season’s premieres.

Cornelius Völker

The painter Cornelius Völker was born in 1965 in the north Bavarian town of Kronach. From 1989 to 1995 he studied at Art Academy of Düsseldorf under A. R. Penck and Dieter Krieg. While a student, he collaborated with four friends in writing, directing and producing the feature film »Die Hermannsschlacht«, which was screened in art house cinemas and at film festivals. From 2005 to 2015 he maintained a studio and second home in New York.

Cornelius Völker’s paintings can be seen in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Germany and abroad. In addition, many of his works are held by renowned collections and museums. Völker has been awarded several major art prizes, including the Visual Arts Prize of the City of Düsseldorf, the Bergischer Kunstpreis of the Baden Museum in Solingen and the Lingener Art Prize. Since 2005, he has been professor of painting at Münster Art Academy, of which he is now deputy rector. In 2018 he was elected as a full member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Völker’s paintings, many of which are large format, explore various dialectical positions: candid sensuality vs. abstract formalisation, conceptual rigour vs. painterly dissolution, a consideration of art history vs. the consistent selection of motifs from the contemporary world. 

All the technical possibilities of paint are investigated in reproducing the deliberately ambiguous subjects of each artwork. Here, painting is as much a sensual event as a conceptual reflection of the history and contingencies of art.

Cornelius Völker lives and works in Düsseldorf.

To find out more about the artist and his work, visit

Season Announcement 2020/21

The 2020/21 season presented in detail.